Cocktail Corner: Seek and Ye Shall Find

Seeker's wine & beer tour packages let you visit a variety of venues at a bargain price, photo courtesy Seeker.

Seeker’s wine & beer tour packages let you visit a variety of venues at a bargain price, photo courtesy Seeker.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic!  By Leslie Dinaberg

In search of a fun way to navigate Santa Barbara’s burgeoning craft beer scene? Last weekend we checked out the newly dubbed “Lagoon District” Lagoon Loop Craft Beer Trail with a package from Seeker (, and it was a surprisingly great way to do some beer tasting.

Seeker, which launched this concept in January, is a local company offering all-inclusive, self-guided tour packages in various areas in Santa Barbara.  But unlike many of the tasting tours, this one works equally well for tourists or locals because once you purchase the tour, it lives on your phone and can be redeemed for up to a year. In other words, if you only want to taste one beer, or a couple of wines in a day, you can do that and return and still continue to use your package. This versatility also makes it a great gift for some of those hard-to-buy-for friends (or employees!). 

This is the map for Seeker's Lagoon Loop package, courtesy photo.

This is the map for Seeker’s Lagoon Loop package, courtesy photo.

Our package (retail price $34.99) included a stop at Pure Order Brewing Company (410 N. Quarantina St., 805/966-2881), where we received a pint of our choice, as well as a 64 oz. growler to take home filled with our choice of beer. As a bonus, Pure Order had a lively party with a band going on that day. I liked the extra pale SBA and the Santa Barbara Lager, while my husband preferred the darker Black Gull Porter.

A short walk away is the 2nd Stop, Telegraph Brewing Company  (418 N. Salsipuedes St., 805/963-5018), a roomy tasting room that appeals to many a beer aficionado. There we got a pint of our choice, as part of the Seeker package. Normally, I really like the White Ale, but I was trying to pace myself, so I skipped the beer (and snuck a few sips from Hubby) and now I have a free one waiting to use next time.

Our third stop was the new Third Window Brewing Company (406 E. Haley St. #3, 805/979-5090), which we’d been dying to try. It’s a beautiful space in the Mill, housed within a restored old barn/feed mill originally built in 1904. With the Seeker package we got a Tasting Flight with five beers of our choice, and honestly, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. Unusually, my husband and I had the same favorite this time, Walkabout, a chocolate orange stout that was absolutely yummy! I also especially favored the Batch 2, a Belgian lager with orange blossoms and loquats—but honestly, all ten of our tasters were good. At some point, Third Window will have its own kitchen, but right now you can order take-out at Wildwood Kitchen (410 E. Haley St., 805/845-3995) next door, (which we did, and it was delicious as always) and they’ll deliver to you at the brewery. A perfect, barbecued end to our adventure on the Lagoon Loop!

If beer’s not your thing, Seeker also offers two different wine tasting packages. Both the Anacapa Wine Walk package and the Funk Zone Uncorked package let you hop from winery to winery, receiving items at each stop (tastings, glasses, etc.).  Just like the beer package, you just show the web app on your phone to staff at each location to receive the included items.

And by the way, I’m always a little bit nervous when I have to show an app or a coupon to get something, but all of the breweries recognized our beer tasting package immediately, were very friendly and made the whole experience a breeze. 

I’d definitely recommend the Seeker packages as a fun way to taste wine or beer, and enjoy the day in Santa Barbara.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on July 8, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: Lots of Local Food & Libations

The Pullman Room at The Lark, photo by Rob Stark.

The Pullman Room at The Lark, photo by Rob Stark.

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg 

There are a lot of fun spring festivities going on in town this month. Here are few worth checking out:

March 6: Wild Brew Fest 

Cultivate Events (CE), The Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival (SBFF) and Soho Restaurant & Music Club (Soho) host their first annual Wild Brew Fest on Mar. 6. The event is at Soho, 1221 State St., from 3-6 p.m.

Wild Brew Fest serves various traditionally brewed and fermented alcoholic beverages including spirits, beer, cider, mead and wine. Visitors can enjoy these drinks en plein air with snacks featuring the freshest and finest food of the county. Wild Brew Fest also features do-it-yourself stations such as a pickle station where guests can learn the art of fermentation, courtesy of the Pacific Pickle Works and Pure Order Brewing Company, and Valley Brewers‘ home-brew station.

For information and tickets visit

March 12: Buellton Wine and Chili Festival

Give your taste buds a thrill at the 2016 Buellton Wine and Chili Festival where over 20 chili/salsa chefs and 30 wineries will compete! Come and see these amazing individuals battle it out to win prizes such as the Best Red Chili, Chili Verde, and Homemade Salsa. And have your say with the People’s Choice Awards for both wine and chili categories. Ticket price includes a souvenir wine glass, unlimited tastings, and live music. Make it a family event and spend the day eating good food and playing games like horse shoes, table tennis, and bocce ball. Bonus: children under 12 get in for free!

The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. at Flying Flags RV Resort, 180 Avenue of the Flags, Buellton. If transportation is a concern, take the Brew Bus from Santa Barbara for $25. Leaves at 10:15 a.m. from Figueroa Mountain Brewery, 137 Anacapa St.) and brings you back at the end of the festival.

Presqu'ile Photomontage, courtesy Presqu'ile.

Presqu’ile Photomontage, courtesy Presqu’ile..

March 12: Presqu’ile Winery’s Tri-Tip Cook-Off

Presqu’ile Winery hosts its first annual Presqu’ile Tri-Tip Cook-Off,  featuring a stellar lineup of top-ten local culinary talents, including Chef Nick Barainca, the Auten Boys and more. Manning the grills in our beautiful al fresco setting, each will prepare their own inspired take on tri-tip for our guests and a panel of distinguished culinary judges.

To purchase tickets, contact Estates Manager Cameron Porter at (805) 937-8110 ext. 103 or

March 16-20: Taste of Solvang

In its 24th year, Taste of Solvang  is a fabulous destination for food and wine lovers alike. Some of the highlights include the Taste of Solvang Blind Tasting Challenge on March 17 at 6 p.m. at Wandering Dog Wine Bar, where guests will challenge their palates while learning more about wine as they match up varietals, regions, alcohol percentage, vintage and price points. Tastings will include four half-glasses of red wine and cheese pairings.

Saturday, March 19 brings the Solvang “Tasting Trail” (various locations, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.), where guests will sample and shop their way through Solvang as dozens of food businesses welcome Tasting Trail guests with edible treats. The Tasting Trail will overlap with this year’s Wine & Beer Walk, (various locations, Saturday 2–7 p.m. and Sunday 12–4 p.m.) so attendees may simultaneously take part in both food and drink activities. The Wine & Beer Walk features 15+ wine & beer tasting spots, and is a great way to discover new favorites, and sample local, boutique wines and craft beers as you work up a hunger for more Taste of Solvang happenings.

Courtesy Wandering Dog

Courtesy Wandering Dog Wine Bar.

March 20, 6 p.m.: The Lark Presents “Local Treasures Dinner” With Telegraph Brewing Company

The Lark Executive Chef Jason Paluska teams with Brian Thompson of Telegraph Brewing Company for an exceptional tasting menu of seasonal and locally sourced products designed to complement the acclaimed brewery’s signature beers and ales. Thompson, Founder and Brewmaster of Telegraph will be on hand to describe how adjustments in process and recipe manifest themselves in the beer’s flavor profiles. Telegraph Brewing Company is the recipient of numerous Gold, Silver and Bronze awards from the Great American Beer Festival and the Beer World Cup.

The dinner begins with Steelhead Ocean Trout Crudo with Thai Chile & Avocado Mousse, Hearts of Palm, Pickled Kumquat and Candied Coriander Seed paired with Telegraph White Ale; followed by Grilled Delta Asparagus with Bone Marrow Hollandaise, Meyer Lemon Peel, Crispy Sunchokes and Nasturtium paired with Telegraph California Ale.  The main course is Paluska’s succulent Roasted Pork Belly Porchetta with Creamy Hominy, Red Cabbage, Escabeche Pickled Vegetables, Crispy Pig Ears, Preserved Lime and Oregano paired with Telegraph Los Padres Saison. Completing the dinner is a dessert of Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Warm Donuts with Hibiscus Caramel and Duck Fat Pecans, created by Executive Pastry Chef Jeff Haines and paired with Telegraph Reserve Wheat with Hibiscus.

Served in The Lark’s private Pullman Room (pictured), pricing for “Local Treasures” with Telegraph Brewing Company is $111 per person, all inclusive of taxes and service charge. Tickets may be purchased by calling The Lark at 805.284.0370 or visit Local Treasures at The Lark.  Seating is limited.

The Lark is located at 131 Anacapa St. in the Funk Zone.

Steve and Crystal Clifton, courtesy photo.

Steve and Crystal Clifton, courtesy photo.

March 22, 6:30 p.m.: Les Marchands and Palmina Wine Dinner

Another delicious event in Funk Zone is Les Marchands and Palmina Wines celebration of Spring with a five course paired dinner and an intimate evening with Palmina’s Steve and Crystal Clifton. For more than 20 years the pair has produced compelling, food friendly wines that showcase the tremendous versatility the Santa Barbara County wine growing region has to offer.  Add Chef Weston Richards into the equation and you get an exquisite five-course menu to compliment and showcase the depth and brilliance of the Palmina line-up! Chef Weston’s menu will be revealed later this week, but reservations are now being taken.

The cost is $99, excluding tax and gratuity, and seating is limited. To purchase tickets and reserve your seats, email

Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant is located at 131 Anacapa St., Suite B. in the Funk Zone.

Hope to see some of you there. Cheers!

Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on March 4, 2016.

Cocktail Corner: SB Passport … to Libations!

Courtesy Santa Barbara Passport

Courtesy Santa Barbara Passport

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg

As far as I’m concerned, there’s almost nothing better than the buzzy fun of enjoying summertime cocktails with friends—but one thing that does beat that is getting a great DEAL on summertime cocktails with friends.

There’s a new player in town—The Santa Barbara Passport—that offers great deals on drinks this summer at 28 establishments for just 20 bucks. This cleverly illustrated, pocket-sized booklet offers loads of drink deals—you receive a stamp in your booklet upon redemption—and the specials will run all summer through Labor Day (September 7), providing ample time to collect stamps and explore.

It even includes a section on Beer 101 and Wine Labels for Dummies, as well as cocktail fundamentals for making—and ordering—classic libations like Negronis, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.

Courtesy Santa Barbara Passport

Courtesy Santa Barbara Passport

“The Passport is the friend that helps you decide where to go for happy hour, on a date or a Sunday afternoon,” says Casey Berry, co-founder of the Passport Program, who describes it as “a curated guide to the beverage culture of Santa Barbara.”

Indeed, participating venues include some of my favorites:

“Santa Barbara offers not just a great nightlife, but the drinks culture is so diverse that you won’t be disappointed when sipping a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Funk Zone or a cold White Rascal beer at American Ale,” says Jane Pimcomrie, city manager for the Santa Barbara branch of the Passport Program. “The Santa Barbara Passport features enough wineries for wine-lovers, breweries for after work socializing, and unique bars for cocktail and spirits junkies. Plus it will make the heat of summer that much more enjoyable.”

Can’t argue with that logic. For more information or to purchase a passport, go here.

Cheers! Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine on June 5, 2015.